On August 30th Hot 97’s On the Reggae Soca Tip concert party lit the Ford Amphitheater at Coney Island Boardwalk. Part of the lead up to New York’s Labor Day Carnival, the show’s lineup included K’Coneil, Xyclone, Alicai Harley, Afro B, Nailah Blackman, Skinny Fabulous, Cham, Ding Dong and closer Busy Signal. The event also featured Jada Kingdom and Sheensea, two of the four female artists recently profiled in the New York Times as “The Queens of Jamaican Dancehall.”
The show saw a rapid-fire succession of sets as artists made a parade on the stage. Highlights included “Watermelon Gyul” Nailah Blackmon playing no “Games” as she and Skinny Fabulous represented for Soca. Afro B was giving life to many a busy body in the crowd with the mega-smash “Drogba (Joanna).” Jada Kingdom was bold and brazen with “Banana.” And although there were many moments when the party pit before the stage went bananas, the heights were reach when Ding Dong and the Ravers Clavers gave dance floor flavors for all to savor.
“Mad! It’s a Caribbean show in New York. It’s has to be mad, crazy!” said Ding Dong “It’s a blessing to have one of them shows in New York where you know say you have like a Hip-Hop dominant world.” Ding Dong’s set included a cameo from Ricky Blaze who blazed his popular ‘bashment’ ballad “Just You and I.” Ricky Blaze will join Safaree, Shenseea and a special surprise guest on September 27 for Ding Dong’s birthday bash at Amazura in Queens.
Spragga Benz, who is about to release his newest work, Chiliagon, was riding high on the debut of his latest single “Wicked Love.” The “Dolly House” ‘shotta’ had one word to describe his performance; “greatness.” There was nothing but likes for the likes of “We Nuh Like” and a slew of “shotta” shots from one of dancehall’s golden ages. He showed and proved why that day was a “Good Day.” Cham set it off with “Wine Up Mi Body” and provided the girls with a high dose of “Vitamin S” and a guest appearance from Shizzle Sherlock, ending his set with the smash single, “Ghetto Story.”
“Me’s a freaky gyal,” said Shenseea, in a set celebrating feminine sexuality. Shenseea also stressed financial independence in a “little sermon” just before singing “Trending Gyal.” She powered through a performance that included getting face to face off-stage with the crowd and climaxed with “Jiggle Jiggle.” Shenseea also presented a dynamic display of ‘dutty whine’ with a battle between dancehall queens from the crowd. The night ended with Busy Signal, prepped for Parts of the Puzzle his soon-to-be-released new album, running through his catalog and recent recordings. Busy Signal blazed ‘boomshots” like “Wuk Gyal,” “Bedroom Bully” and “Stay So” closing out with a conscious culture ‘chune.’
The Ford Amphitheater provides sizzling summer showcases as well as fine and casual dining and is an integral part of the continuing Coney Island renaissance. Since its debut with Ziggy Marley on June 25, 2016, this enclosed outdoor venue has held performances across genres and seen the likes of Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Mary J. Blige and Maxwell and an array of artists from Machel Montano, Tarrus Riley, and Babyface to Rap royalty, all the way to Kool and the Gang, Chronixx, Counting Crows and Culture Club. This year it hosted Wu-Tang Clan’s 25th Anniversary hometown concert and performances by Beres Hammond, Burna Boy and Boyz II Men.
Photos by Robert Cooper & David Allan Blanks